Alternative energy solutions are necessary now more than ever

As a result of the load-shedding crisis, South Africa’s GDP growth is most likely to drop more than half to 1.2% this year. President Cyril Ramaphosa called the challenges within the embattled power utility a national threat to Africa’s most developed economy. Longitude Development’s Managing Director, Shaun Roos, shares his insights on the energy crisis and what this means for property development.

Inevitably, the country’s devastating energy crisis will continue for years to come. Load shedding was introduced to us in 2007 due to the government’s failure to maintain or replace aging generation plants and to, additionally, build new power stations. For at least the last decade, the power utility has been under increasing pressure to be privatised. Property entrepreneurs can be justified in speculating that privatising Eskom, and converting it into a business-oriented power utility, would be a viable option for the country to bring an end to load shedding. While it will not be an overnight solution, adhering to timelines and being accountable will go a long way toward restoring faith in our ability to keep the lights on.

A recent article read that we should focus on finding solutions to fix the problems for the greater good instead of relying on unreliable services. And rightfully so. From a property developer’s point of view, this means including full or hybrid alternative energy solutions in the design and build of our schemes, in as much as the market will bear it and can pay for it. In my opinion, we’ve crossed that line, and the market will respond to developments that offer these installations.

To provide a reliable off-grid supply, hybrid energy systems combine two or more renewable energy sources, such as PV (photovoltaic), wind, micro-hydro, storage batteries, and fuel-powered generators. During the development of our properties, we take into account a response plan to the energy crisis by including energy-efficient LED downlights, gas hobs, heat pumps, and geyser combination for hot water generation, and one of our developments comes with a 1kW inverter and battery storage system, while a freehold build offers a base installation consisting of a 5KW inverter and 4.8 KW lithium battery with the option to scale up according to need.

While solar energy may not be a cheap option, it is certainly a strong consideration in a country with as much sunshine as ours. According to data, most areas in South Africa average more than 2 500 hours of sunshine per year. There is no doubt that solar energy is the most readily accessible resource in South Africa. As a result of its versatility and potential, the country’s solar equipment industry is growing at a rapid speed.

Together with enhanced security and non-reliance on already compromised municipal services, alternative energy solutions will appeal to prospective buyers and investors who seek sustainability and efficiency.

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